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eco Friendly Household

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eco Friendly Household

You've replaced all your lights with CFLs or LEDs, swapped out all those harsh cleaning products, saved the rain in rain barrels, and caulked and insulated the shell. Let's take a quick look at just a few of the additional eco friendly products that are available for your home.

Kitchen

Refrigerator

- See the section under conservation. Basically, if your fridge is 15 years old and has a frost free freezer compartment, you could save $45 per year buy replacing it with a new model. Don't keep the old one for a beer fridge....then you've accomplished nothing.

Plastic Wrap

- not as bad as it once was, companies like Glad and Saran have changed the chemical make-up of their products to contain less low-density polyethylene (LDPE). Just the same, plastic wrap can not be recycled. Try to use resealable containers - glass jars, Tupperware, Gladware, Pyrex, etc.

Ovens

- Use a toaster oven or microwave if you don't need the large space provided by a conventional oven. Gas is generally friendlier than electric, due to the source of the electric power (coal?). The high-tech stoves without a coil element, tend to be more efficient that the ones with a coil element. An oven that has self-cleaning, will have more insulation in it and therefore use less energy to cook.

Dishwashers

- Surprise! Modern dishwashers can use half the energy, one-sixth the water and less soap, than washing by hand. Don't start the dishwasher till it's full!

Bathroom

Showers

- use a low flow shower head. If your shower can fill a 2 litre jug with water in under 10 seconds, you need a new head. They should use no more than 11 litres per minute. (1 litre = approximately 1 US quart)

Shower Curtain

- if your curtain or liner is Vinyl, then it may be off-gassing potentially hormone-disrupting phthalates. Try to find a hemp shower curtain. You can also install a shower door or sliding enclosure.

Bath

- uses a lot of water. Showers are better, but if you must bath, try to use less water in the tub.

Toilets

- up to 65% of indoor water use takes place in the bathroom and about a third of that goes down the toilet. If you have an older toilet consider replacing it with a low flow unit or a dual flush toilet. If nothing else, fill a container with water and place it in the tank. Adjust the size till the tank still flushes properly but a minimum of water is used per flush. You can sometimes lower the float to reduce the water levels in the tank, though this also reduces the pressure of the water and inhibits the flush. Put some food colouring in the tank and check the bowel and hour later. If colouring has leaked into the bowel, replace the flapper.

See more ideas in our water conservation section.

Toilet Paper

- Kick the virgin, bleached habit! Try to use a brand that contains at least 80% post-consumer content. And watch out for the labeling - Elemental Chlorine-Free. This process can still release dioxins into the environment. Look for products labeled Process Chlorine Free.

Furniture

Foam

- to start with, the foam pillows and cushions are likely made from polyurethane - not the greenest material on earth. But, it's hard to find a couch or big old chair, that doesn't have foam. The real issue, is with the flame-retardant chemicals added to the foam. For years the furniture industry used chemicals known as penta. The E.U., and several USA states have already banned the use of penta and several other countries are in the process of phasing it out. Other other chemicals are now in use, it may be best to try and stay away from foam all together.

Wood

- Though natural, renewable and biodegradable on it's own, be aware of the varnishes, glues, waxes and paints that may cover your purchase. Of special interest is particleboard which may off-gas noxious vapours for years. Increasingly convincing veneers might have you thinking you're buying solid maple ... when in doubt, ask.

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